Linda Gorchels blogs

Product management

Product managers should think like entrepreneurs

During corporate training sessions, I often ask attendees for their workshop expectations. One product manager wanted to learn how to think like a product manager

To think like a product manager is to think like an entrepreneur.

Neither have complete control

Let’s expand on that a bit. While people may argue that entrepreneurs have more control over everything than do product managers, the reality is just the opposite. It is the rare entrepreneur who is wealthy, with easy access to materials, operations, and labor. Entrepreneurs, like product managers, are hands-on tinkers and testers.

Persuasive investment proposals 

Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their product or service. They have a vision but need resources to actualize the vision. They must craft business plans to solicit money from venture capitalists or banks.… Read the rest

Eco-Dumb Innovation

Articles about the importance of innovation to the growth—or even survival—of a company saturate the internet. I even stress its importance in my monthly posts on the topic. However, not all innovation is socially or environmentally compatible. Short-term financial gain may cause long-term environmental pain. Can we do it better? Can we think in terms of Eco-Smart Innovation?

Social Ecosystem

Let’s start with the social ecosystem.

While the average family size in the United States declined over the past seven decades, the average house size increased. A standard single-family house in 1950 was 983 square feet. It now averages 2631 square feet. Additional closets and room sizes enabled us to pack the building with more possessions.

Over the years, advertising bombarded us with messages that we need the new cell phone, the most up-to-date fashion, or the improved household items.… Read the rest

Rules Every Product Manager Should Follow

There are many types of product managers in diverse industries. Yet, there are commonalities that bind them together.  A few guidelines keep popping up in many articles. Here are those rules every product manager should follow, the Ten Commandments.

The Product Managers’ Ten Commandments

As a product manager, thou shalt…

I. Master customer insights

The cornerstone of your product strategy is the ability to attract and keep high-equity customers. Even though product is in your job title, your most important role is to create benefits for (the “right”) users. Who are the most important consumers and why? How are the most important customers different from those who are more short-term or opportunistic?

II. Focus on outcomes

Start with the end in mind.… Read the rest

6 Product Manager Keys to Building Credibility

We’ve all heard that product managers are “mini CEOs”—or words to that effect. They have to influence a lot of stakeholders. To do so, they have to be credible. How can you build credibility? Roll up your sleeves and earn it. Here are a few ideas to help you.

Do Your Homework

Product managers deal with strategies and tactics. Big-picture issues and small details. Broad market demands and individual customer nuances. Internal politics and external realities. It’s hard work, and cutting corners rarely succeeds. Relevant information on customers, product plans, and financial projections are staples of your job. 

Industry knowledge is a must. Learn the broad “rules” in your industry, along with detailed knowledge of competitive positions. Pay attention to trends that could impact current and future product sales.… Read the rest

What are the Strategic Imperatives for Product Success?

The title of this post was a question recently asked on Quora. It included a link to this video, which stated that successful products had to fulfill three criteria: awesome, cheap, and profitable.  Hmm…

I’d like to take my answer in a different direction.

Strategic imperatives are the “big picture” aspirations or goals that guide product management. The extent to which products fulfill the aspirations, or fit the desired strategy, determines their success. Let’s consider a few examples.

Example One: Political Campaigns

Assume you are in charge of a political campaign, i.e., your “product” is a politician. Your strategic imperative is to win the general election. But the first win may need to come from beating opponents in a primary.

Read the rest

Are Generalists More Open-Minded?

Generalist or Specialist?

Are you a generalist, or a specialist, or both?

It’s fair to say that on any topic you fall on a continuum from no knowledge, to some knowledge, to proficiency. Depending on the topic, there may be more or fewer people in each category. (The green curve shows fewer experts on the topic, and the red curve shows more.) In addition, you are likely to be at different points of the curve for different topics.

Regardless of the curve’s shape, who do you expect to be more open to new information—experts or uninformed people? It depends on who is more curious and open to new viewpoints. That said, being a generalist—a person in the middle of the curve—may have advantages.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (part four)

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (part three)

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (Part Two)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest

The Product Manager Advice Dossier (Part One)

The Product Manager's Handbook

Just as Clark Kent (Superman) and Kara Daniels (Supergirl) performed Herculean exploits behind the guise of mere humans, product managers are challenged to work behind-the-scenes to achieve product success. (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch. But don’t you like being compared to superheroes?)

Working faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a product bottleneck. Able to leap tall requirements in a single bound. Maintaining composure while working without direct authority. Surviving the kryptonite of firefighting and reactivity. It’s tough. And good advice can help.

At the end of every chapter of The Product Manager’s Handbook, I included an interview with a prominent business expert or consultant. Each offered perspectives for different product management challenges. Here are snippets of their words of wisdom.… Read the rest